Humans started to cultivate their environment the moment they settled down and defined a living space around the fire. We did this initially by practising agriculture and in doing so blossoming from pure hunters and gatherers to designers and developers of our living space. By cultivating our own environment, human beings have created a certain form of independence. It’s interesting to note here that humans acquired this through a commitment (mainly to a location). But then a paradox becomes apparent.
Self-design and creation initially emerged to meet the most intrinsic of basic needs: a food supply. (Unfortunately, many people have forgotten that the first place culture happened was in the field.) The artistic expression of values and attitudes came later – with art and music, yes, but also community and society. This tendency to strive for independence on the one hand, but also to create, on the other, appears to be inherent to human beings. However, artistic cultural creation has increasingly shifted outside the home, particularly in the more recent past – to museums, concert halls, and workshops, which are most likely to have a domestic, intimate character. Art, culture and music, but also societal and social design, have been separated from the living space and moved to a neutral space. This is no doubt also because of the ever-decreasing extent of family connections. Community necessitates larger dimensions and so has unavoidably moved away from the shrinking home.
Hans Stockmar was born in Sydney on March 17, 1890, and initially went to school in Cairo, San Francisco, London, and Montreux. He abandoned a commercial apprenticeship in Bremen to follow his ideals and internal motivation; this led to him attending drama school in Berlin, where he found something like a “spiritual home”, probably for the first time. After a brief stint at a farming college, he and his future wife Vilma emigrated to New Zealand, where he built up a large-scale beekeeping business. Stockmar started to learn about anthroposophy during this time, and the family later moved back to Germany so their children could attend school there.
After a very eventful early life, Stockmar settled down in Kaltenkirchen, where he felt very at home. Over time, his place of residence and beeswax refinery also developed to be a source of culture: the Stockmar family home offered meeting rooms and a rich cultural life (in the form of readings and presentations, but also theatre, of which Stockmar and his wife were great enthusiasts). And it didn’t end there, as this rich cultural life and experience also made its way into the workroom. Theatre pieces written by Stockmar himself were then also performed with significant support from neighbours and colleagues. The source of this cultural creation was anthroposophy, which ensured that design and development in that residence and workshop were not restricted exclusively to the fine arts. Societal, social and spiritual questions also took up space here. And even today, employees at STOCKMAR in Kaltenkirchen are offered artistic options as well as space to consider questions of shared design and development. A few years ago they even established a room specifically for this purpose: the Think Tank, which is still there and in use to this day. After all, design, development and independence on the one hand, and a sense of place on the other are not opposing principles. Perhaps this one anchor, this place of shared values, is what is needed to be free for cultural creation.